Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Judge Punts to High Court | Justices Could Give Legislators More Time, or Courts Could Complete the Process

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Judge Punts to High Court | Justices Could Give Legislators More Time, or Courts Could Complete the Process

Article excerpt

REDISTRICTING

TALLAHASSEE -- The redrawing of district lines for Florida's 27 congressional seats remained in flux on Tuesday, with next move expected to come from the Florida Supreme Court.

After the Legislature failed to pass a new congressional redistricting map in a two-week special session that ended Friday, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, who was scheduled to review a completed map, said he will ask the state's highest court for guidance.

"I'm just going to ask them what they want me to do," Lewis said. "Send it up and say: 'Give me some more direction if you want me to do something, I'll be happy to do whatever I'm told.' "

Among the options, the Supreme Court, which had invalidated the current congressional districts last month and had given lawmakers 100 days to fix the map, could take over the map making. The justices could also direct Lewis to preside over the creation of a map, weighing proposals brought forward by

lawmakers and the League of Women Voters and other groups that successfully challenged the prior maps.

Another possibility remains that, if given more time by the courts, the House and Senate could call another special session and find a compromise.

The final option has been the Senate's stance since the last session collapsed without an agreement. "(T)he Senate remains open to further negotiations with the House and is ready, willing, and to reconvene in special session to fulfill the Legislature's obligations to draw new congressional districts," the Senate said in a motion filed with the Supreme Court.

Senate Reapportionment Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who attended Lewis' hearing, said he was encouraged by remarks made by George Meros, an attorney for the state House, who indicated House leaders remained open to discussions with the Senate.

"The House is certainly willing to continue to engage with the Senate and see if there is a way to come up with an enacted map," Meros told Lewis. …

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